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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later.Support Elizabeth on Patreon.

31 Comments

  1. Wm Keith
    October 21, 2011 @ 12:36 am

    Half-way through season 13 out of 26 seasons; almost exactly half-way through the number of stories in the original run.

    Here, we have a still point, a non-event, a perfect moment of time in which absolutely nothing happens. The eye of the storm.

    Reply

  2. Spacewarp
    October 21, 2011 @ 1:07 am

    This story is what the wife and I now refer to as a "Jagged Edge" – something that you can really only watch once. Leaving aside the fact that you know from the title that some Androids may eventually attempt to invade, the first few episodes were quite interesting…At The Time.

    I remember this on first broadcast, and it was honestly quite watchable stuff, simply because we didn't know what was going on. We didn't know it wasn't Earth, and we didn't know why the vegetation was so dry, or the coins were newly-minted. Of course by the time you do find out the Kraal plan, it's all a bit of a let-down.

    However – and I still maintain this is a vitally important part of considering old episodes of Doctor Who in context – while we were watching it, it was intriguing. Watching it now, yes it does look like a disaster, because you know that the payoff isn't going to live up to the lead-in, and you're quite frankly just yawning and waiting for Chedaki to turn up and talk like Zippy. But then that's the problem. Unlike watching Genesis, where you know exactly what happens, but it's still fun getting there, once you know you're going to meet Styggron and his dull plan, it's hard to sit through so much plot that ultimately leads nowhere (or at least not to where you thought).

    However, watching it then, we didn't know this disaster was going to happen. We didn't sit through the first episode and think "This is a pile of crud, when do I get those 25 minutes of my life back." We still tuned in next week because it still looked good, and we were trying to piece the clues together. If they had "water-cooler TV" back in the 70s then the first couple of episodes of this would have been avidly discussed at work on a Monday.

    If one is reviewing Android Invasion, then yes it's a disaster. But if you're analysing it in relation to it's place in the history of Doctor Who, the UK, and the world (which I thought was how you were approaching this Psychochronographic blog) then surely this story is just a Disappointment.

    Reply

  3. Matthew Celestis
    October 21, 2011 @ 1:42 am

    It's certainly my least favorite Tom Baker story. Watching Pyramids of Mars puts me in a really depressed mood, but I don't think I could even bear to watch Android Invasion again.

    Reply

  4. Steve Hogan
    October 21, 2011 @ 3:24 am

    Not to fall into the role of Mr. Links Police, but "Slyther" links to blogspot's home page, and "Mire beast" links to "The Daleks" as opposed to "The Chase. Otherwise good stuff.

    Reply

  5. Elizabeth Sandifer
    October 21, 2011 @ 6:37 am

    Spacewarp – I think it's tough to elevate Android Invasion above disaster, at least by the aesthetic standards that the Hinchcliffe era seems to set for itself. I do agree that, initially, there's something to the mystery – and I think a lot of that comes down to what I argue about Terry Nation in this piece. For all his inadequacies, every time I've watched a Nation story I've been amazed by how quick-moving it is and how much excitement it can whip up. It's just that Nation scripts tend to move very fast and in rather small circles.

    Reply

  6. Steve Hogan
    October 21, 2011 @ 7:27 am

    He's sure not the best thought out writer. The whole "The village isn't on Earth" thing was probably him thinking he was being clever. "The audience knows the title of this is "Android Invasion" so I'll make them think it's started when it hasn't yet." This of course leads to the ridiculousness of the Kraal creating a whole detailed village that serves absolutely no purpose.

    Reply

  7. Seeing_I
    October 21, 2011 @ 10:04 am

    It is a disaster, of course. But I'm going to say three good things about it that I love.

    1) Robot-Sarah's face falling off. One of the most indelible images in Who, at least to my young mind.

    2) The Kraal makeup. It's really nice.

    3) "I feel disorientated!" "This is the Disorientation Chamber!" "Oh, well that makes sense."

    Reply

  8. JJ
    October 22, 2011 @ 5:28 am

    I don't think you give enough credit for how well Barry Letts puts the serial together. He's not quite on the level of Camfield and Maloney, but he's still one of the more capable Who directors of the early '70s, and Android Invasion is well made.

    Granted, between the first episode, where Nation is at home quietly setting up mysteries, and the latter parts of episode four, with the actual android stuff, Nation is just marking time, and rarely well, but Letts makes the most of it.

    Baker and Sladen work together so well that it's fun to watch even an inferior story like this. And the actual fight between the Doctor and his doppleganger is terrific.

    Even though it's far and away the least interesting story of the entire Hinchcliffe era, I still find it pretty entertaining, thanks to Nation's fast action, Letts' solid film making, and Baker and Sladen. I'll take it over Revenge or Mandragora any day, even if there are some more interesting things going on under the surface in those.

    Reply

  9. Jesse Smith
    October 23, 2011 @ 5:19 pm

    Everything Spacewarp said about this story is true, which is why I always try to approach Doctor Who in a state of "beginner's mind".

    I will say that as a child, much of this story seemed pretty exciting to me. Radiation sickness, duplicated villages, android copies of familiar friends, the TARDIS abandoning the Doctor and Sarah, the Doctor fighting his own android – what more could an 7-year-old boy want?

    Having said that, I think I read the novelization (published by Pinnacle) before I saw the actual episodes.

    Reply

  10. Henry R. Kujawa
    April 5, 2012 @ 6:30 pm

    I agree with JJ. But I would. From the first time I saw "THE ANDROID INVASION", it's been one of my favorites. And I've seen it at least a DOZEN TIMES so far (including tonight). Way back, when Baker's 1st 4 years were all I had on tape, THIS was the story I dug out on its own to introduce a friend to the show. YES REALLY.

    There is something about Terry Nation you failed to mention. Just about everything he's ever written (OUTSIDE of that God-forsaken BLAKE'S 7) is BETTER than his Dalek stories. I love "THE KEYS OF MARINUS"; I love his work on THE AVENGERS and THE SAINT; and I love "THE ANDROID INVASION". Why the HELL did he insist on writing so many damned Daleks stories?

    So much to love: the scenery, the interplay between The Doctor and Sarah (so beautiful, so charming and funny, so resourceful and brave– she rescues the Doctor TWICE in this one!). And then there's Guy Crayford, a volatile piece of work if there ever was one. FUNNY thing… I never noticed this until tonight, but he resembles Peter Davison, including some of the mannerisms. He's like the 5th Doctor's EVIL twin brother!

    Stygron– what a wonderfully-designed creature, including the wardrobe, and what an expressive VOICE! I rank him easily up there with Broton among monster leaders. The production design in general reminds me a bit of PLANET OF THE APES, except with rhinos, and of course, the plot is INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS. Sort of.

    To me, the most maddening thing has always been… the TARDIS. How could the Doctor be so stupid as to have it set to take off on automatic? He MUST have known it wasn't Earth from the beginning (so he LIED to Sarah!) but how could he be sure he's EVER get home when it all started?

    Meanwhile… if I read the word "postmodernism" one more time, I think I shall scream. It reminds me of the book I once read on classic horror movies where the author kept repeating the phrase "Grand Guignol" a hundred or so times… without ever once explaining what the F*** it meant.

    Reply

  11. Nickdoctorwho
    November 22, 2012 @ 5:15 pm

    I've read on Gallifrey Base and other forums that TAD is an Auton story in disguise.

    Steve Hogan–"This of course leads to the ridiculousness of the Kraal creating a whole detailed village that serves absolutely no purpose."

    I rationalize the village as a training-ground so that the androids can more seamlessly integrate on planet Earth. Sure, anyone can make an army of human-looking androids, but there will always be something slightly…off about them, something unnerving. They're in the village, going through the motions of being human, so that they can be human and leave us stupid apes to die from their plague, none the wiser.

    If you think about it for a moment, it's brilliant: the Kraals only need to "invade" Devesham, because their plague virus will do the legwork for them.

    So, in a perfect world, Guy Crayford would end up assimilated by the Nestene Consciousness; an Auton training planet would therefore have been constructed from his memories. He, of course, would have a duplicate made in his image–the perfect decoy, and the perfect ruse. He'd even think himself the real thing.

    Now, regarding Mr. Crayford: is it at all possible to connect this story to Major Tom from "Space Oddity?"

    Reply

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  13. orfeo
    August 19, 2014 @ 5:15 am

    Oh come on. It is not NEARLY as bad as you're suggesting.

    For example, I think you are completely wrong about the ginger pop. For starters, episode two has an extensive reminder that the Doctor likes ginger before it gets to the part where the android version of Sarah Jane wrongly likes it. It's clearly intended to be the memory jogger from a week earlier, so that the audience has time to remember about episode one's ginger pop conversation.

    Then there's the look that the Doctor shoots at android Sarah Jane as soon as she expresses her enjoyment of ginger pop. It's a blatant indicator that something is wrong.

    Finally, there's the simple fact that I've watched weekly TV shows far, far more recently that frequently use references to past events and trust that the audience will remember them. And they use similar cues to help. Yes, I know there are some TV shows that resort to "previously on…" segments to slap the audience over the head with instructions about what they're required to remember, but they're not all so blatant.

    As to the general quality of the episodes, there are undoubtedly some problems (Elisabeth Sladen's unfortunate attempt to fall over a 'cliff', the eyepatch business) but there are also some great successes. You might object to spending time in the fake village, but it's the eeriness of the not-quite-right village that provides some of the best moments. Particularly the deeply uncomfortable silences in the pub – first as the androids wait for the clock before moving, and then the total silence after Sarah Jane emerges.

    Don't assert that "absolutely everything that anyone would enjoy about this premise" is in the fourth episode. I enjoyed considerable parts of the first three. It was certainly a hell of a lot better than Revenge of the Cybermen.

    Reply

  14. David Sarkies
    January 15, 2015 @ 12:59 am

    The Android Invasion was the scariest story from my childhood. I am sad to hear you say that it was as bad as you say it is. However, in the days of the DVD I watch the episodes as a whole rather than weekly episodes and even then here in Australia they would be shown nightly as opposed to weekly.

    Reply

  15. Craig
    August 6, 2015 @ 12:01 am

    The face falling of Android Sarah Jane was one of the scariest moments of my childhood.

    Reply

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